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Hi Art Fair World,

I am seeking honest critiques for my photography website. I have not yet started the show circuit, and my website is currently more of a portfolio than anything else. My background is in anthropology and archaeology, and much of my photography has a leaning towards that theme. I'm sort of a recovering academic. I built the website myself using Wix, but I am certainly not an expert on these things. I am seeking out opinions on the website and photography itself, what works and what doesn't. I'm thick skinned, so constructive criticism is welcome. The website is in many ways a launchpad. Thanks,

Brent

Website:

https://www.brentleftwichphotography.com

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Impressing website....BUT you need to secure your images with one of those secure personal stamp, otherwise everybody can download your images.....

Brent I like your photographers eye a lot, you can capture precious moments on celluloid , people called that in the good old days.

I also like that you give a percentage to a good cause, bravo.

love and peace

Heike

What "personal stamp" do you refer to?

If you mean watermark, there is software to remove that in seconds. He does have right click turned off.  There is nothing out on the market that can stop someone from stealing images from a website. There are many methods to make it more difficult, but none stop it.

The best protection you can do is put up images that, if stolen, will be of such low quality to not be of use.

Of course some will say you can enforce copyright infringement but that is a completely different discussion.

Having right click turned off does not stop people/bots. When I am on sites it slows me down by 2 seconds, 1 click and I have reenabled it. Bots don’t load the script that disables it. You would want to turn off image hotlinking to reduce some bots. If you watermark and someone removes or crops it off, that is rights management tampering and becomes a quick slam dunk in court.

Steve, I agree, to a certain extent.

Dealing with and worrying about chasing after someone, after the theft is not something I would advise. Better to reduce the chances and lock the door than to try to catch the thief.

Often images are stolen and used, yet we artists do not know about it.

Do we desire to make our living at creating art or by chances of successful litigation, in court actions?

If I wanted to be an attorney, I would not have devoted myself to art.

I can leave my car unlocked, with my wallet on the console. Then Try to prosecute the thief, if I can catch them. Or... I can not leave the wallet in an exposed state and lock the car door.

In essence we have rights, we have the law, we have chances of recourse. However due diligence is easier, less work, more reliable, greater probability of success and cheaper.

Brent

Very nice work. Although your "about you" section is very nicely worded, is it too lengthy? As an academic you are used to detailed and comprehensive reading. Is the typical customer?

Have you made the website  “Responsive” and “Adaptive” design? I have not tested for this but it will make it cross platform so cell phone, tablet and computers will all be able to view it properly.

Many very nice shots. Although many are typical. Do you want to be different, unique and stand out from the rest? As you expressed reading National Geographics etc, we cannot but help to become influenced by such. It takes a conscious effort to see things without the subconscious influencing us with what we have been exposed to, via study of other's images.

Then again, typical seems to sell well at shows. It depends on what path you desire.

Applaud your interest and support of our world. The planet is more important than petty monetary and power gains.

Larry,

Thank you for the assessment. I did at least try to optimize the website for mobile viewing. Wix has a separate editor for that. The grid display of photos should also automatically re-tile itself depending on the viewer's screen size and shape. I've had some bugs pop up every now and again when photos are shown full-screen, but Wix keeps assuring me they're "working on it." 

Your critique of typical shots is spot on, and something that I've thought of as well. The biggest internal push for me currently, at least in the Nature category, is public awareness. By that, I mean, here's a photo of something unique and spectacular, so you should go visit that place, and encourage that it should stay protected and unsullied. However, there is a point that even shots of spectacular things can become cliche. I think it's a struggle most professional photographers grapple with: how to make something as well-photographed as Yosemite and Arches stand out from the crowd. It's also who are you trying to impress. Other photographers will be harder to please than the lay person who has never been to these places in person. I really do thank you for that comment. I think it's important.

Hi Brent, I enjoy your photography!

A couple thoughts come to mind stylistically on the website. if possible I'd switch the "Brent Leftwich Photography" and the gallery buttons so "Brent Leftwich Photography" is above. I'd also carry that combination as a header across all the pages in the galleries to remind the viewer whos photography they are looking at (I know that may sound funny since they found their way to your site already but anytime/anywhere you can put your name in front of the viewer it's a good thing). Font color for the gallery buttons could be a little darker to stand out more. 

On your about me page I would suggest some significant editing to shorten it to about half the length. Think "Elevator Speech" length. I'd also use a larger font to make it more easily readable. I looked at it both on my ipad and laptop and my old eyes have a hard time with that small of a text. 

On the contact page you might also consider including your email address and a phone number in the text. Personally I Like being able to call and talk directly to a live person without having to search a site for how to do so get questions answered without playing email tag (did I mention I'm getting old?)  :) 

I did experience some challenges viewing on the ipad and having the pages bleed off my screen so that might be something to check on also.

I hope these thoughts are helpful.

Doug

I might suggest not doing the email and telephone in the text... it is too easy for BOTs & DATA mners to steal and then you are spammed.

There are many ways to set up to allow contacts without having that information in the plain text on a website.

Hey there Brent!

I teach and coach this subject extensively as well as do website reviews for free. I have done hundreds of website reviews over the years. I have a few "off the top of my head" suggestions:

1. Your header (where your name and menu are on your home page) needs to be repeated on every page. I work with Wix have built a dozen or so sites on that platform. It's an easy fix. And I agree with Doug; menu under name is the norm.

2. Your About is (as mentioned by a few people) too long. Here's a general rule of thumb: the average person is staying on a page for under 15 seconds. We officially have an attention span that is less than a goldfish - at about 8 seconds, so 15 seconds is a "win". Text lowers that threshold to about half. So if your first few sentences are not incredibly compelling, no one will go to the next paragraph. More than 100 words is usually too much.

3. Not sure why you have not chosen to use the shopping cart, but this is a big issue. No one will contact you to find out a price. People do not give out their emails (ie contact you - a total stranger) nor take the time to fill out a form. I have a blog post that is called, "Why your website is not making you money" and it might be of value to you to read.

And lastly, since you are donating proceeds, that deserves a separate "Landing Page", not just a mention on your contact|order page. (By the way - the link is going to a gofundme that is finished. All the more reason to dedicate a full page to what the heck this money - the 25% - is actually going to.)

Feel free to reach out to me if you want a more complete review. I do a 10 min video tour. Free and no strings attached. As many here know, I am the podcaster who wants you to "Find Loving Homes for Your Art" and happy to help you do that, too.

Final advice: the number one question we all need to answer for that person who clicks onto our sites is universal: "What's in it for me?" People are "busy" and if they don't see something that is instantly "rewarding", they are back to checking their notifications in a hot second. And...KISS: You have way too many photos on the site and that alone can cause over-stimulation and rejection of the "project" - the work - you are putting in front of our goldfish brains.

A bit off topic: your work is very professionally presented.

Aloha from Maui! Mckenna

Brent, 

     My advice is to jump in with both feet. Some of your work may be cliche but we probably all do things that are cliche at one time or another. That's how we learn (and some people like cliche). You are obviously very talented and you will find your own voice over time. That's the fun part of the whole journey. Have you looked at FASO (FineArtStudioOnline)? Clint does a great job and is more than willing to help. Best of luck.

Phil

Good photography. But I hate slide shows on the home page. The home page should be a horizontal defining image that when clicked on leads to the galleries. Screen filling images can easily be taken by other artists and used for jury images. Though you have right click turned off, you can do a screen capture on an ipad at 2048 pixels wide and have an image much larger than intended.

Every page on the web site should have contact information, including phone number, to make it as easy as possible to make a sale. You can have a price/size list but people will forget which image interested them by the time they find it. That's why full contact information on each page. I also dislike gallery pages where all the image appear a different size because people perceive those different sizes to be levels of importance. Images that could sell together should be grouped together so if there's interest, they can sell together.

Larry Berman
http://BermanGraphics.com
412-401-8100

Brent

I am a web site developer.  I think your web site is a great start, but there are things that should be improved.

1 - I respectfully disagree with those that say your About page is too long.  However it should be rewritten using the old fashioned rules of newspaper writing.  Put the most important information in the first paragraph and each successive paragraph should be less important.  So people can choose to read as long as they remain interested but they get the info you want them to get the most, wherever they stop.  However, the page needs to be easier to read, which means darker text, a larger font and justified text.  Centering a title is appropriate but centering the text in a paragraph makes it harder to read.   I think the content of the page should be divided into two sections or even two pages.  One should be biographical information and the other should be an artists statement.

2 - Since you want to sell through the site, convert it to e-commerce and enable someone to buy any image while they are looking at it.  

3 - Separate the contact page from the ordering information.  If you are not ready for e-commerce, have multiple sections on the ordering page, with titles.  Here are some sections I recommend, but the order I am writing does not mean this is the order they should have on the page.  You should decide that after you have written them up.

  • order an individual image
  • large orders
  • special orders for different materials, frames etc.
  • institutional and corporate orders

4 - Put the statement about sharing revenue on the home page along with your commitment to preservation.  I would put it above the slide show so you can be sure everyone sees it.

You are welcome to contact me if you want additional feedback

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